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A simple parallel processing fork manager

Parallel::ForkManager - A simple parallel processing fork manager


Parallel::ForkManager - A simple parallel processing fork manager


  use Parallel::ForkManager;

  $pm = new Parallel::ForkManager($MAX_PROCESSES);

  foreach $data (@all_data) {

    # Forks and returns the pid for the child:

    my $pid = $pm->start and next;

    ... do some work with $data in the child process ...

    $pm->finish; # Terminates the child process



This module is intended for use in operations that can be done in parallel where the number of processes to be forked off should be limited. Typical use is a downloader which will be retrieving hundreds/thousands of files.

The code for a downloader would look something like this:

  use LWP::Simple;

  use Parallel::ForkManager;









  # Max 30 processes for parallel download

  my $pm = new Parallel::ForkManager(30);

  foreach my $linkarray (@links) {

    $pm->start and next; # do the fork

    my ($link,$fn) = @$linkarray;

    warn "Cannot get $fn from $link"

      if getstore($link,$fn) != RC_OK;

    $pm->finish; # do the exit in the child process



First you need to instantiate the ForkManager with the ``new'' constructor. You must specify the maximum number of processes to be created. If you specify 0, then NO fork will be done; this is good for debugging purposes.

Next, use $pm->start to do the fork. $pm returns 0 for the child process, and child pid for the parent process (see also perlfunc(1p)/fork()). The ``and next'' skips the internal loop in the parent process. NOTE: $pm->start dies if the fork fails.

$pm->finish terminates the child process (assuming a fork was done in the ``start'').

NOTE: You cannot use $pm->start if you are already in the child process. If you want to manage another set of subprocesses in the child process, you must instantiate another Parallel::ForkManager object!


new $processes
Instantiate a new Parallel::ForkManager object. You must specify the maximum number of children to fork off. If you specify 0 (zero), then no children will be forked. This is intended for debugging purposes.

start [ $process_identifier ]
This method does the fork. It returns the pid of the child process for the parent, and 0 for the child process. If the $processes parameter for the constructor is 0 then, assuming you're in the child process, $pm->start simply returns 0.

An optional $process_identifier can be provided to this method... It is used by the ``run_on_finish'' callback (see CALLBACKS) for identifying the finished process.

finish [ $exit_code ]
Closes the child process by exiting and accepts an optional exit code (default exit code is 0) which can be retrieved in the parent via callback. If you use the program in debug mode ($processes == 0), this method doesn't do anything.

set_max_procs $processes
Allows you to set a new maximum number of children to maintain. Returns the previous setting.

You can call this method to wait for all the processes which have been forked. This is a blocking wait.


You can define callbacks in the code, which are called on events like starting a process or upon finish.

The callbacks can be defined with the following methods:

run_on_finish $code [, $pid ]
You can define a subroutine which is called when a child is terminated. It is called in the parent process.

The paremeters of the $code are the following:

  - pid of the process, which is terminated

  - exit code of the program

  - identification of the process (if provided in the "start" method)

  - exit signal (0-127: signal name)

  - core dump (1 if there was core dump at exit)

run_on_start $code
You can define a subroutine which is called when a child is started. It called after the successful startup of a child in the parent process.

The parameters of the $code are the following:

  - pid of the process which has been started

  - identification of the process (if provided in the "start" method)

run_on_wait $code, [$period]
You can define a subroutine which is called when the child process needs to wait for the startup. If $period is not defined, then one call is done per child. If $period is defined, then $code is called periodically and the module waits for $period seconds betwen the two calls. Note, $period can be fractional number also. The exact ``$period seconds'' is not guarranteed, signals can shorten and the process scheduler can make it longer (on busy systems).

The $code called in the ``start'' and the ``wait_all_children'' method also.

No parameters are passed to the $code on the call.


Parallel get

This small example can be used to get URLs in parallel.

  use Parallel::ForkManager;

  use LWP::Simple;

  my $pm=new Parallel::ForkManager(10);

  for my $link (@ARGV) {

    $pm->start and next;

    my ($fn)= $link =~ /^.*\/(.*?)$/;

    if (!$fn) {

      warn "Cannot determine filename from $fn\n";

    } else {

      $0.=" ".$fn;

      print "Getting $fn from $link\n";

      my $rc=getstore($link,$fn);

      print "$link downloaded. response code: $rc\n";





Example of a program using callbacks to get child exit codes:

  use strict;

  use Parallel::ForkManager;

  my $max_procs = 5;

  my @names = qw( Fred Jim Lily Steve Jessica Bob Dave Christine Rico Sara );

  # hash to resolve PID's back to child specific information

  my $pm =  new Parallel::ForkManager($max_procs);

  # Setup a callback for when a child finishes up so we can

  # get it's exit code


    sub { my ($pid, $exit_code, $ident) = @_;

      print "** $ident just got out of the pool ".

        "with PID $pid and exit code: $exit_code\n";




    sub { my ($pid,$ident)=@_;

      print "** $ident started, pid: $pid\n";




    sub {

      print "** Have to wait for one children ...\n"




  foreach my $child ( 0 .. $#names ) {

    my $pid = $pm->start($names[$child]) and next;

    # This code is the child process

    print "This is $names[$child], Child number $child\n";

    sleep ( 2 * $child );

    print "$names[$child], Child $child is about to get out...\n";

    sleep 1;

    $pm->finish($child); # pass an exit code to finish


  print "Waiting for Children...\n";


  print "Everybody is out of the pool!\n";


Do not use Parallel::ForkManager in an environment, where other child processes can affect the run of the main program, so using this module is not recommended in an environment where fork() / wait() is already used.

If you want to use more than one copies of the Parallel::ForkManager, then you have to make sure that all children processes are terminated, before you use the second object in the main program.

You are free to use a new copy of Parallel::ForkManager in the child processes, although I don't think it makes sense.


Copyright (c) 2000 Szabó, Balázs (dLux)

All right reserved. This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.


  dLux (Szabó, Balázs) <>


  Noah Robin <> (documentation tweaks)

  Chuck Hirstius <> (callback exit status, example)

  Grant Hopwood <> (win32 port)

  Mark Southern <> (bugfix)